Monday, February 28, 2005

Betty Crocker I am not

It’s been a bit since I’ve last posted about my adventures in the kitchen. Things are still going well and I’ve only carved up one more of my little fingers (which is healing nicely, thank you). And up until about 4:30 yesterday I could have stopped here.

But then I tried to bake.

One of our neighbors in Texas gave me one of the cookie mix jars for Christmas before we left. For those of you unfamiliar with the cookie mix jar, it’s essentially all of the dry ingredients in a jar, usually with a nice ribbon and piece of fabric adorning the top. Very country, very cute. All you have to do is add the “wet” ingredients (eggs, vanilla, etc.) and bake the suckers. Voila, you get homemade cookies in half the time with all the mess.

Well, last night I came downstairs after attempting to put Miss Grace to bed only to find all of my packaged cookie mixes sitting on the counter. A hint from Brandon that he was needing something sweet after our grilled dinner. Not a problem for an accomplished chef such as myself, I thought, I’ve made beef stew, chicken every which way you can think of and even lasagna from scratch, how hard can this be?

I read the directions and followed them to the letter. In went two eggs, a teaspoon of vanilla, ¾ of a cup of butter…mix well, add the dry ingredients. As I sent my little visions of sugar and M&Ms into the oven I had thoughts of how other mothers would be envious when I brought in Grace’s birthday cookies to her Kindergarten class. They would all ask for my recipes and cry when they couldn’t make them just like me.

The directions said to allow the cookies to bake for 10-12 minutes, but being the conservative I am I set the timer for 9 minutes just in case. I turned on the oven light to sneak a peek when I saw the most horrendous sight. My cookies looked our neighbor’s sad little snowman who was braving the 40 degree weather last week. This is not right, I thought. There was a sea of butter from the greased cookie sheet and the M&M colors were bleeding making the cookies look like something you might see after inhaling too much smoke at a Grateful Dead concert. I let them go another two minutes in hopes that they would miraculously firm up and look pretty. No such luck.

Carefully I removed my babies from the oven. Maybe I made them too big? I pulled a little dough off of each of cookie on the second batch’s tray. As Batch #2 was being baked to culinary perfection I scraped the scrambled cookie mess off of the first tray. They sadly sunk down through the slots of the cooling rack. Brandon entered the kitchen about this time to check on my progress.

“The cookies are supposed to sit on the top of the cooling rack, not ooze down and fall onto the counter.”

I kindly gestured with my hand that I was aware of the function of the cooling rack.

I’m sad to say that the next two batches weren’t much better. The first batch went into the trash as they were still raw (I think), but the rest of the cookies were totally flat and fragile. I have to say that pregnant or not I’ve never met something made with chocolate, sugar and eggs that I wouldn’t eat, so I knew despite their unattractive appearance and frail little existences, these cookies would not be unloved. I shall include photos below so that you might truly enjoy the humor that these cookies brought to our lives.

And, I think that I will stick with cooking. Who needs fresh baked cookies anyway? It looks like Grace’s classmates will celebrate her birthday not with the traditional sugar sweets, but with a chicken and rice casserole or perhaps a nice hot bowl of beef stew.

The melty, bad-acid-trip-hallucinagenic first batch of cookies...definitely not right. Posted by Hello

The first batch "cooling" on the rack. Note the distinct amount of cookie goo on the counter. Posted by Hello

One cookie had such low self-esteem he jumped to his death on the tile floor. Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 27, 2005

My Mommy caught me off guard and planted a big old smooch on me! Posted by Hello

We went to Grandma's this weekend and I sat in her rocking chair from when she was little. If you look on the mantle behind me, you'll see her sitting in the same rocker years ago. Posted by Hello

I'm always having to get my diaper changed, so today we deicded it was Cahew's turn. Here he is in a clean, fresh nappie! Posted by Hello

Here I am helping Mommy with the laundry as usual. I'm a big help because I hand her each clothing item to put in the wash. She can't really bend over anymore, so it's a good thing I'm around. Posted by Hello

Friday, February 25, 2005

Why oh why...

...must Target have the best sales ever and carry the coolest stuff now that I don't work? I used my allowance, but had to restrain myself which is really a Target buzz-kill. Maybe someday I need a part-time job there to get big, huge discounts off the already good clearance prices?

"Ummm, yes, I'd like to apply for a job."

"Sure lady, just fill out this application and bring it up to me when you're done then we'll chat a bit in the way of an interview."

"Well, before I go through all of that I was really just wondering what kind of employee discount that you get?"

"It's ____%." (the number 80 comes to my ever-hopeful mind)

"But what about off of "clearance" merchandise, is it still that same ___% in addition to the already reduced price?"

Manager rolls eyes and rips application out of my hand.

End of potential career at Target.

Got some FABULOUS photo albums there today in a faux suede. One is a chocolate suede with a cute silver belt-buckle to close the album and the other one is a tan suede with a chocolate "leather" trimmed collage of four photos on the cover. Very cute and will go along well with my favorite album that was a gift from Pottery Barn a few Christmases ago.
It had also been requested that I write about my belly-button which is no longer the small cute innie that I once was able to show off in the warmer months whilst wearing teeny-bopper midrif baring tank tops.

Today it looks much like a duckbill from my angle. The top kind of sticks out triangularly and the bottom half of it is completely flush with the rest of my skin. It keeps Grace very amused which includes pulling my shirt up to check it out while shopping at Marshall's.

Brandon is mostly jealous of it right now because it's super easy to clean. No more dirt-hoarding crevices to dig in with a Q-Tip...just flat skin that cleans as easily as your arm or leg.

And with that lovely image implanted in your brain...have a fabulous weekend! I'll try to get some pics up here soon!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

From Aunt Betty's archives...I suppose this is where Grace gets her fashion sense (think underwear on the head) and good looks from! This is me when I was little. Posted by Hello

Ideal Witness Protection Site

So last night Brandon and I were watching Law & Order: SVU (or SUV as he calls it) and the former ADA who was supposedly killed awhile back resurfaced. It turns out she was placed in a witness protection program for safety from a drug cartel. Any guesses where they placed her for complete anonymity?

C''s cold 8 months out of the year here, I mean there, they have lots of lakes and the local Farm & Fleet proudly advertises and sells "winter wedder weapons" (think accent of "Fargo"...that middle word would be "weather")...

That's right! The Badger State! Wisconsin!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Update on the Phone Number Saga

Let's see, another week or so has gone by with about a dozen more calls for the infamous Blackwells pouring in. They left their checkbook in another dining establishment this weekend (wow, they sound like they might be a good time to party with!) and the guy who just called had to confirm with me that I didn't know their new number and was curious if lots of people had called for the Blackwells (Clifford, Kate, Emma Rose and however many more of them there are). Additionally he was helpful enough to let me know that if I called the operator they could change my number, free of charge, so it doesn't keep happening.

OK, here's an idea. How about the Blackwells go ahead and send out a big fat change of phone number e-mail to everyone they know (friends, family, creditors, the restaurants they frequent, doctors, Sears home delivery, their local Walgreens photo center, etc.) and update their checks with the new number?

I don't wanna change my phone number! I have it memorized and it's an easy one to remember. Perhaps that's why people keep calling it.

Tuesday Morning Rambling

It's sunny out today and the snow on our roof is melting and dripping giving off the impression that it is actually warm outside. Warm, is a relative concept, I suppose. The forecast for Austin said 80 yesterday. It's days like that when Miss Grace and I would have gone to feed Ghost and Joe (the ever hungry horses), the Fat Pony Things and the wild chickens.

Grace is going to her first playgroup here today. It's an "all ages" group, which we've never done before. I suspect it will go one way or another...either she'll be shy and get run over by the bigger kids or she'll be right in the middle stirring things up. I suspect it will be the later given her general demeanor when it comes to interaction with other kids.

In preparation for the playgroup I'm trying to get Grace to nap, but the babbling and laughing coming from her room says it's not looking good.

The Great Furniture Hunt is still on, although I have finally narrowed down the last piece that we need for now. We've ordered her crib (in white) and a story chair (since Peanut will get the glider) already, now we're down to the changer/hutch combo (in white). I decided on this because it gives me a place to change her, provides storage for her clothes and diapers, allows for displaying her books, picture frames, and other knick-knacks without drilling holes in the wall.

Alright, the nap was a failure...she's now yelling to me. Wish me luck at playgroup with an unrested Miss Grace!

Closed Polls
In choosing a city to live in 48% of you chose AUSTIN and 52% chose MADISON.
100% of the votes went to the tandem stroller in the "which double stroller" dilemma.
Thanks again for voting!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Here's Miss Grace with her usual flair for fashion. Yes, indeed those are my underwear around her head and no, ladies and gentlemen, they are not clean. She went rumaging through the dirty laundry pile and SPAZZED when I tried to take them away from her. Posted by Hello

Stuff You Ought to Know

I'm closing the two polls on Sunday night so feel free to cast your votes if you haven't! I have to make way for new, more important polls like which super hero powers would you want and how long do you find it socially acceptable to eat food after it's been dropped on the floor (OK, you mommies out there KNOW you do it!!!!!).

"She's still, she's still Jenny from the Blog"...alright, it was a dumb J. Lo reference...for the record, I don't even like J. Lo.

Anyway, we had lunch with Jen from Three Shades of Blue (go visit her!) and her two little ones, Logan and Miles, yesterday at a great little place called Ella's Deli. Lots of flying mechanical things overhead to occupy the kids' attention during the meal! At one point Grace and I were watching Miles and it took EVERYTHING Grace had in her to not actually touch the baby. She was squealing with delight at him (with only partially woke him up from his milk-induced-coma thankfully!) and flapping her hands. I only hope she is this enthusiastic at the prospect of a full-time baby on the premises in a few months.
We are getting Grace to practice saying the two potential names for her sibling...Jack (pronounced as by Miss Grace as "Kack") and Elle ("Eh")...very cute! I'm just a little sad that she still won't say "Mama" or "Mommy"...yesterday in the car we said, "Say mama" and she said, "Bop." Hmmmmm...

This weekend's exciting plans include the continuation of Adventures in Baby Furniture Shopping which you can all be glad that you are not present for. There's nothing like getting ready to drop a boatload of money on furniture (which coincidentally is nicer that Mommy and Daddy's furniture!) with your 15 month old running amuck in the store. Sadly I cannot even enjoy a beer to help numb the financial pain.

Love to all-
Mama Duck

Pigtail Grace is back! It's been awhile since we've done pigtails, but there they are again! I love it! Posted by Hello

This is really dark...I was having problems with the flash, but here's Daddy's recent purchase for Peanut.

A GENDER NEUTRAL blue snow suit with big dinosaurs on it. He said we can put a pink blanket over the baby if it's a girl. Sadly I really do think in his heart of hearts he thought this WAS gender neutral. :) Posted by Hello

Holding Court with Gertie the Pink Poodle and the beloved Cashew in Mommy's bathroom. It's nice to have friends who will listen to you... Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 17, 2005

"Take Me Back To Austin"

Today was a rough one for Mama Duck. It started off with Grace and I driving to a mothers' club meeting in a little suburb called Fitchburg. I printed out Yahoo directions which haven't steered me wrong yet and off we went. It was freezing (literally) outside but the sun was shining so it looked like a nice day.

For those of you unfamiliar with the fine city of Madison there are two sides of town, east and west, and they are connected by an
isthmus...think back to 5th grade geography...a thin piece of land that connects two larger bodies of land and has water on either side. The isthmus appears to be a great natural boundary so that the two sides of town don't argue over who has the better Wal-Mart or whose Dick's Sporting Goods carries more guns. However it makes for some messed up travel as ALL the roads on are on a slant and tend to stop and pick up in random places.

Anyway, I was supposed to be on the south side of town (to which there is no real direct route from my house) when I suddenly found myself directly in front of the capitol building. Downtown. Not on the south side of town. Hmmmm, not what I wanted to see.

After using my best vernacular to leave Brandon a message at work (let's put it this way, Eminem would have blushed while listening to it...) regarding what I thought about our new home we finally made it to our destination. Late...but in one piece.

Grace played nicely in the "Kids' Room" and I sat in on the meeting. Afterward some of the women introduced themselves and one made the mistake of asking where I was from.

"Austin, Texas."

"Oh, that's supposed to be really nice, it's different here, isn't it?"

(tears start to well in my eyes) "Yes, it is."

"How long have you been here?"

"A month." (complete meltdown in front of TOTAL STRANGER!!!!!)

"It's all so fresh, I'm sorry....and I'm pregnant!" I blurt out thinking this sounds intelligent.

She was so kind and understanding, as I stood there blubbering with tears streaming down my face.

Grace and I eventually left, got in the car and determined out own route home and I lost it again. Grace is SOOOO good when I cry, she just sat in the back-seat quietly letting her mother bawl her eyes out.

Then later this afternoon I turned on the TV (something I almost never do during the day) and the last three minutes of "A Makeover Story" were on before "Trading Spaces"...the two make-overees get into a convertible and drive up the the TEXAS CAPITOL...IN AUSTIN...then tears and boo-hooing commence again...

Poor Grace must think her mother is a total basket-case.

Update: Tonight I got a phone call from one of the girls at today's meeting. We had chatted when I first got there (she was running the Kids' Room), but apparently as they were cleaning up she talked to the gal I broke down in front of. She was just calling to make sure that I knew I wasn't alone and to offer any help. I haven't even joined their club and this is the kind of reception I'm getting? I was totally overwhelmed at her thoughtfulness!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A great big hug for everyone!!!!!! Posted by Hello

A Day in The Life...

Still getting a call a day for the Blackwells. Yesterday we got two, one for Emma Rose and one for Kate. Just how many Blackwells are there!?!?

Cooking is going well. Made Beef Stew again last night. Tastes great and the leftovers could feed an army. Oh, I also made Crunch Berry Marshamallow Treats which are a superb and sugary mess!

Going to the doctor this afternoon to check on Peanut. I'm guessing we'll still see the fetal heart rate register in the 120s, but will let you all know if there's something drastically different.

Miss Grace said "high five" last night after Daddy asked her for one! Ooooooh! Some real words and...

...she also used a sign for the first time yesterday! Granted, it wasn't really the correct sign, she was trying to get the point of "more" across to me and she used her index finger to point at her palm. I'm still trying to get her to use the real "more" sign, but we're headed in the right direction!

It's been in the 70s all week in Austin. Not that I'm complaining or anything, but just wanted to let you know. It's really warm and sunny there. I'll bet the chickens are wondering where in the heck the corn has gotten off to.

Mama Duck

I think that B needs to zoom in a bit, but here's me at 32 weeks and a lovely shot of our mantle and fireplace. Posted by Hello

As always, trying to fill Daddy's shoes is a big job! Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Getting Around with Two

So we just returned from a local baby store and I THOUGHT I knew which double stroller I was set on. Then Brandon threw a kink in the works and now I'm all kinds of confused!!!

I'll avoid going into major details, but in our minds, the ideal stroller will be:
1. will be good from birth with Peanut as well as holding an active toddler,
2. easy to use in stores as well as on walks, and
3. easy to steer.

I thought I was set on the Maclaren Twin Traveller, but then we checked out the Graco DuoGlider.

I just added a new poll, so please vote. Also, if you have more to say than just the answer (like if I'm totally overlooking something that's important!) , please leave a comment or e-mail me at texnprncss73 at yahoo dot com.

Thanks all!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Public Service Announcement

We have had the very unfortunate luck of being assigned the phone number for a family named the Blackwells. The poor Blackwells remodeled their house on State Street here in Madison and apparently gave up phone service for awhile but meant to keep their number. This did not happen.

They have ordered something very large requiring delivery from Sears. They have photos waiting for them at Walgreens. They left their checkbook at a Mexican restaurant (too many margaritas, Mr. Blackwell?). They had some type of work on their house which they were to be billed for via mailed invoice.

Wanna know how I know all this about them? Every freakin' caller feel obligated to tell me their life story and personal involvement with the Blackwells. Additionally, they always have to ask if I know their new phone number. What the heck kind of phone company would disclose that information to a new phone subscriber?!?!?! Do these people really think that SBC would trust me with the Blackwells new number? These people are typically all kinds of confused about why this number doesn't belong to the Blackwells. I simply cannot say, "Wrong number!" because I KNOW THEY WILL TRY TO CALL AGAIN, so I have to explain it each time.

Just a PSA, in the event you are trying to reach the Blackwells of Madison, Wisconsin who do still live on State Street in their newly remodeled home...I DO NOT HAVE THEIR PHONE NUMBER...

I am starting to think about giving about a false number just so people will leave me alone, but I'm afraid they might call back to let me know that the number I supplied them with is not correct.

Mama Duck (NOT MA BELL!!!!!)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"In the continuing adventures of Bucket Head, our fearless hero takes time to destroy her toy room, empty the kitchen cabinets and sing Rock A Bye to the babies!" (and yes, she really puts the bucket on her head all by herself...repeatedly...all day long) Posted by Hello

Hmmmmm, very interesting, but different stuff going on down there! (I'm sure Grace and Aiden will HATE this picture when they get a bit older!) Posted by Hello

Honk honk, beep beep!!! Here I come on my Nemo car! Posted by Hello

Monday, February 07, 2005

Culinary Update

Just a quick note from Chef Boy R Mama Duck...

I've enjoyed all the recipes that I've received so far and welcome any more that you might want to submit. Here's how my adventures have gone so far...

Cousin Brittany's Diner Eggs and Potatoes: Now a weekly tradition on Saturday morning; were shared and enjoyed by Aunt Boo, Uncle Ben, and the Ducks this weekend!

Dan & Jenny's Chicken: This actually tasted like something that I would PAY for a a restaurant (chicken boobies, stewed tomatoes, mushrooms, black olives, garlic, etc.) planning on making again soon!

Kerry & Parker's Beef Stew: Yummmmy!

Lindsay's Rice & Chicken Casserole Link: Wonderful! As the recipe from the web-site stated it was a bit dry, but I'm thinking about adding a 1/4 cup of milk next time...Brandon said it was perfect as is though, so I'm still debating on messing with the recipe!

Mom Schrofer's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup: Messed with this recipe and it was gooooooood! We added potatoes and and an extra can of chicken broth...warm and hearty!

Unknown Donor's Spinach Lasagne: SUPER EASY and delicious! What better way to disguise spinach and get your veggies in than to drown it in sauce and cheese?

That's all for now...I am really enjoying my challenges in the kitchen and think that my official cooking repertoire is growing nicely! Am still in need of a spice rack as our Traget doesn't carry them...grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Cheers and love-
Mama Duck

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Update on Peanut

Hello all!

Just a quick note from "Mommy" on how Peanut is doing.

We had an appointment this week and everything looks right on target for 31 weeks. His FHR was 125 again!!! Very low compared to Miss Grace! This week he has been VERY active at night following my evening ritual of a bowl of Bunny Tracks ice cream (vanilla ice cream with fudge swirls and small chocolate covered peanut butter bunnies...ummm, yeah, it's "light"...). A few mornings I've been woken up with a bout of his little hiccups too!

Here are the results to the recent poll I had listed on this to those of you who thought Peanut was a:
Girl: 12
Boy: 30

Only two more months until we find out for sure!

Have a great weekend and check out the recent pics of Miss Grace below!
Cheers and love to all-

Guess who?!?! It's me! Grace!!! Posted by Hello

This is me with one of my favorite Nemo car. It totally rocks...I'm going to drive it to Target when I'm old enough. Posted by Hello